Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas making and baking - despite my creativity going AWOL!

 For some reason, even though I have been enjoying time off work, my creative muse appears to have left the building! I just haven't really felt like being creative.  I know that this is sometimes the way, and I do try to make the most of those times when the muse strikes.  Before creativity deserted me, I did make some polymer clay Christmas trees, using liberal amounts of glitter.
They are very simple, stand about 6 cm tall, use up some scrap clay and were quite satisfying to make.
I have also made the my usual iced star biscuits which I enjoy making.  I hope that over Christmas I will feel that I want to finish my tunic dresses and skirts, make jewellery and perhaps even make some felt...of course, if not, there is always eating, drinking, watching TV and reading!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas Cracker swap

I have been taking part in Tracy's from Mad About Bags Christmas Cracker swap for the past three years and it is a lovely one to do as you are limited to what can be fitted inside a kitchen roll, which gives you a real challenge.  This year, I was paired up with the lovely Alison from  fatdormouse and View from the Teapot.  We emailed and I discovered that she didn't sew, so she asked whether I could wrap the cracker in paper, for paper crafting, rather than material. Of course I could!  We found out about likes and dislikes and then got on with the making and buying.  We swapped our crackers and here's what I received:
 A cracker with an added extra of the most beautiful rich purple coloured felting wool...
 ...and when I opened it up...well!  What a lot of goodies!  Alison had even drawn a zentangle picture featuring a cat, which was also ingeniously wrapped around the cracker.
 Lovely buttons, a necklace, a key ring, two corn dolly decorations (which will be going on the tree), chocolate coins...
lollipops, ribbons, mints, toiletries - how lucky I was!  A HUGE thank you to Alison for her generosity
Here's what I sent (although, rather foolishly, I forgot to take a photo of the wrapped cracker): hot chocolate, Lindt bears, a felt heart, star decoration, quartz earrings, ribbons and cosmos seeds.
I found this rather gorgeous hand made paper so wrapped that around the kitchen roll before wrapping in paper and adding ribbon.  It was a lovely swap, so thank you to Tracy for organising and many thanks to Alison.  

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Winter has arrived

It can't be denied any longer, yesterday morning, Winter had definitely arrived with the first real frost of the season. I took a few photos of the frost on the plants - above is one of the blueberries.
It looked like a dusting of icing sugar on the flowers of Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle.
 They looked really quite beautiful.
 Frost on the rose leaves...
... and highlighting the edges of the Penstemon leaves
Although it means that autumn is over, Winter does has its own beauty.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Vintage Fair and Strictly Night

 We went to The Drill Hall to the Lincoln Does Vintage Fair yesterday and enjoyed having a look round.
This was one little corner of the Hall. There were lots of stalls and we had a great time wandering round.
 There wasn't much material, sadly, but I did find this piece which is probably 1960s and in a shiny, slippery material.  No, I don't know what I'm going to do with it!
 On the same stall, I spied these Pyrex bowls. I just loved the colour and was very tempted.  However, after a lot of thinking, I decided to go away from them and look round again and have another think. Of course, you can guess what happened - I just HAD to buy them. (Chris rolled his eyes heavenwards).
We headed upstairs for tea and cake and spied two more stalls in the tea room.  I had a look and spied, yes, a smaller Pyrex bowl in exactly the same pattern - well, of course, I had to add that one to the collection too!  I have since found out that it is the Gooseberry pattern and the bowls are called 'Cinderella bowls' for some reason (more research needed on that one, I think).  I just love everything about these - the colour, the pattern, the shape...just gorgeous!
 We enjoyed a lovely tea with proper china cups (most important!).
In the evening, my friend Rachael and I settled down to watch Strictly and entered into it with gusto.  We had paddles for marking and kept a note of the judges' scores, added ours and Simon was top of our leader board, followed by Pixie and Trent, Caroline and Pasha.  It was great fun (aided by some wine, of course!) and we have decided to repeat 'Strictly Night' for the next three weeks.  (We predicted that Sunetra would go, and were right.) Here's to Vintage Fairs and Strictly!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Sunsets in city and country

I live in a city and as we are surrounded by houses, we don't often manage to see lovely sunsets.  However, I did capture this one, although I had to crop it to remove the houses and telegraph wires.
 I thought the cloud formation looked wonderful touched with the fiery reds and oranges.
My mum, on the other hand, lives at the edge of a village and overlooks fields.
 Now that's a sunset!
 Although I love living in a city for convenience, I do feel a bit envious that I can't see the full glory of an amazing sunset like this one last Sunday.
It does make me appreciate them more when I do see them, though.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Sewing Lessons 5 and 6

I have finished my second 'Kate' dress and here it is!  My fifth sewing lesson was a bit of a "dis-arrrr-ster" as things kept going wrong, such as catching the material when I was setting in the sleeves and having to undo it several times.  Then, when I was overlocking the seams, it caught again!  I decided to move on to my A line denim skirt and got that cut out, the darts sewn in, the side seams joined and my first ever zip sewn in too.  I unpicked and re-sewed the offending wrong bits of the dress over the following week and finished it.
 Here's the back view.  I love this material as it is so happy and cheerful.  I bought it back in April and posted about it here.  I think it may be called Retro Flowers (which makes sense). I haven't worn this to work yet, but perhaps will do so this week, depending how cold it is as the material is only a cotton.  I am currently working on 'Kate' number three, using the other material bought at the vintage fair.
 Here is my finally completed A line denim skirt which I bought the material for way back in April.  However, I gave myself "until Autumn" to get it done, so I am really pleased!  It is very comfortable and having my tutor, Sue, help me through it, meant I was able to get the fit right.
 My first proper zip!
Another view of the zip.  As you can tell, I am really pleased with my improving sewing skills and my next project, apart from three or four more 'Kate' dresses(!), is to make a nice padded sewing machine cover for my machine which has only got a plastic cover at the moment and deserves something better! I shall be raiding my material stash to see what I can make use of - it'll be fun!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Polymer Clay Days

I have been enjoying working with polymer clay and introducing more friends to this versatile medium.  Below is Angie's first attempt at pendants and earrings using just black and white clay.  She made spiral canes, flower canes, extruded canes and then did the Sutton Slice (on the teardrop shapes)  I think she may be hooked now!
 My friend Rachael has discovered what she described as 'her thing' - Kawaii creatures - which means 'cute' in Japanese, I think!  She started off making a dragon (and made me one too) and then made a gingerbread man and reindeer.  They are indeed very cute!
The dragon...
 ...the gingerbread man...
...and the (rather nose-heavy) reindeer, who needed a bit of support to stay upright!
She was delighted with these little creations and then tried out a new mould which I had just got the previous day.
 I think it worked beautifully!
So, what have I been making?  Well, I absolutely love using the silk screen kit and have made two pieces into pendants with tassels.
 I call this the 'Frankenstein' pendant because the pattern reminds me of lightning and electricity and I chose gemstones which had the same shine and colours including snowflake obsidian, shell, pearls and quartz.
The other one I made has a range of blue gemstones including pearls, sodalite, blue quartz and labradorite.  I love the blue colour on the labradorite which is at the bottom of the tassel (the correct term is labradorescence!)  Chris suggested using cord to hang them on and I agree, as the plaited beading thread just didn't look quite right.  I wore the blue one at work on Friday and got several compliments, which was really nice.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A lovely surprise from Joy!

I took part in a giveaway the other day, over at Joy's blog, Daisy Row, and was delighted to find that I was the lucky winner!  
Here's what greeted me, when I opened the box - what a lot of lovely parcels!  I particularly liked the star wrapping paper that Joy had used.
 There was some material included, which is the background here.
Here's what was in the parcels - star tissue paper and ribbon, crocheted rounds/coasters (which may get used for a project, although I haven't quite decided yet), sewing thread, a notebook (perfect for notes at my sewing lessons), the cutest little penguin bag/purse, or possibly camera case as my camera fits in there, and some white chocolate (which didn't last long, not with two chocoholics in the house!)  A HUGE thank you to Joy for her generosity, which is much appreciated.  Aren't giveaways great...especially if you are lucky enough to win!

Monday, 10 November 2014

A lovely song - Tom Bowling (Robert Tear)


It is the season of remembrance and I thought I would share this rather lovely old song,  Tom Bowling, written on the death of  Charles Dibdin's brother, at sea.  However, I think it would also be a memorial to all those people who fought and died in war.  It is beautifully sung by Robert Tear and sensitively accompanied by Andre Previn.  Have a couple of minutes of peace in a frantic world.
Charles Dibdin (1745 - 1814) (from Wikipedia)

Friday, 7 November 2014

Sewing Lesson 4 - Tunic dress Ta Dah!

 I somehow wasn't sure I could do it, but look, I have made my first tunic dress, using the lovely Kate Pattern from Sew Me Something.  I am absolutely delighted that I have made something which I can wear!  This material was from a vintage fair and I got it at a really good price, so that is an extra bonus.
There are no fastenings with this pattern and so it is generous in size.  I could probably have gone to one size smaller on the top, as the shoulders are quite wide and my sewing teacher, Sue, told me I had narrow shoulders.  We did alter the pattern a bit as we went along.
 Here I am modelling - I don't actually like having my photo taken, hence the 'from the  shoulders down' look!
 The back (I did take it in a bit down the centre back seam).
 A side view, with my new black ankle boots (I bought them on a bit of a whim, decided I had nothing I could wear them with and couldn't find any tunic tops/dresses I liked in the shops, so the idea of making a tunic dress was born).
Demonstrating the pockets -  a pocket is always useful, I find!
Now, I have gone on and on about the dress, so will have to pluck up the courage to actually wear it to work next week.  It is very different from what I usually wear (trousers, t-shirt and cardigan) but I am going to challenge myself.  I have already started the next tunic dress and have three others to make as I have bought and washed the material already.  At my next sewing lesson, I am (at long last) going to start the A line denim skirt!